The importance of knowing that Mrs. Mallard has heart disease prepares the audience for the ironic juxtaposition of hope and disappointment that explains the real cause of her death. The author wrote this to misdirect the audience on how Mrs. Mallard really feels about her husband. Towards the end of the story, Mrs.
Empathy is a very different thing from sympathy. On the other hand, if on hearing the same incident, you put yourself in the shoes of your friend. Then, you would basically imagine putting yourself in the same place he is in and that would instill the thought of you losing your own mother, which has a more profound effect on you. You being sympathetic towards your friend would not have the same effect. Empathy makes you understand what a person is going through a lot better, it gives you a different view from that of our own perspectives.